QI Watchdown: G12 (Gravity)

This is the kind of episode that feels like classic QI. You’ve got two semi-regs who’ve been there from the beginning, Rich Hall and Bill Bailey, plus you’ve got a SPECIAL GUEST, Barry Humphries, best known for his characters Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson, and for voicing the main shark in Finding Nemo.

All the buzzers have to do with weight. Rich is an anvil that takes forever to fall, which causes him to go ‘oh, man…’ before it does. Bill’s is a talking scale, which tells him his weight is 12 stone, 2 lbs, 4 oz. Both Alan and Stephen go “you wish…” Alan’s is someone being flung into space.

After the first question of the game, Barry buzzes in to say “I meant to say, I like that tie very, very much…”
Stephen: “Thank you, and coming from a man with your color sense that makes me so happy.”
Barry is adorned in a bright yellow robe, so it all makes sense.

I find it interesting that Rich Hall is in the room anytime someone mentions the moon on this show. For instance, when Stephen says that the gravity train would be easier on the moon, Rich, remembering Cruithne, says ‘which moon are we talking, here?’
Stephen even notices the irony, and goes “always a sore point…”

Stephen says that Galileo figured out that heavy objects did not fall faster than lighter ones. “How did he?”
Barry: “He dropped two cannonballs off the Leaning Tower of Piza.”
Stephen, crushed: “Ah, did he?”
KLAXON. All the while Barry’s looking around confused.

Alan: “What’s heavier, a ton of gold or a ton of feathers?”
And he’s grinning, knowing the answer. Bill even goes “is this an Elton John party request?”
Stephen: “Well, actually, one is heavier, because gold is measured in a different unit than feathers, so technically gold is heavier…”
Alan’s smile drops and he full-on face palms.

Stephen, on the hot-air-balloon mile-high club members: “It says here that as they were going over Picadilly, she was on all fours.”
Alan: “What, was it a glass-bottom balloon?”

Barry is a great personality, but he’s buzzing in with the right answers quite a bit. I’m not putting him anywhere near John Sessions or Rory McGrath, but he’s covering solely the knowledge part tonight.

Barry, after getting his umpteenth klaxon: “I hope I get the worst marks, because losing is the new winning.”
Stephen: “You know, you’re bidding fair…”

Stephen says the average bullet can reach up to 2 and a half kilometers up.
Alan: “Straight into the couple shagging in the balloon.”

Stephen: ‘Are there any scientists who can back me up on this?”
Audience: “yeah!”
Stephen: “There are a couple in the audience-”
Rich: “Or any assassins?”

Stephen: “Why did Fosbury flop?”
Alan: “…gravity…”

Stephen says that limbo players have to “flatten their nipples, or snip them off.”
Bill: “I once lost a limbo competition-”
Alan: “I thought you were gonna say you lost a nipple…IT WAS A RAZORBLADE! We were playing in prison.
Stephen: ‘Russian limbo.”
Alan then does an impression of someone who’s nipples are being cut off. It’s hysterical.

Bill: “No, but I lost a limbo competition.”
Alan: “Really? Someone got lower than you?”
Bill: “Someone more limber than me, yeah. Actually, it was Lionel Blair.”
Alan: “Obviously a dream. ‘ME AND LIONEL BLAIR WERE HAVING A LIMBO COMPETITION…one of my NIPPLES fell off!”
Bill: ‘Look, I had a bit of bleu cheese before I went to bed.”

Stephen: ‘How big would a cloud need to be in order to dispense my regular amount of wine?”
Bill’s buzzer: “TWELVE STONE, FOUR OUNCES.”
Stephen: “no…’does not compute'”

Stephen: “How many bullets are there in a gunslinger’s revolver?”
Alan: “Seven! Five!”
Bill’s buzzer: “TWELVE STONE, FOUR OUNCES.”

Rich: “Five.”
Stephen: “You’re quite right. Why five?”
Rich: “GRAVITY!’

Overall: A solid show, with a lot to like, but a bit thin in the middle. Bill and Rich gave great answers, and Barry was colorful, if not as funny as the others. A lot to like, but not a laugh-a-minute one like Greats or Groovy.

MVP: Bill
Best Guest: Rich
Show Winners: Alan and Rich
Best QI Fact: bloody steak.
Best Runner: Shagging in the air balloon.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E9, Christmas Special, or Shut Up, Womblio

Well, once again, because it’s an even series on NMTB, IIIIITTTT’S CHRRIIIIISTMAAAAAASSS!!!

Tonight’s a very special episode, as it features an actual rap star, in Coolio, and an actual British Hugh Hefner-type in Peter Stringfellow. Geoffrey Hayes was the host of Rainbow. Kelly Llorenna is a pop singer and dance act. A very odd lineup for a Christmas show.

Phill, pointing something out in the U2 video: “As you can see, Bono’s got a really big foot. That’s why they do the gigs in the snow, so they can’t see his big freak foot…”
Mark: “WE FOUND BIGFOOT! That’s fantastic!”

Coolio, reassuring me that he won’t be just another grumpy confused NMTB-er with a single line: “Would you let your kids hang around with someone named Englebert…*HUMPERDINCK!* That scares me.”

Phill: “This is actually his program. Englebert sells kids on QVC.”
Mark: “Though, on QVC he’d say ‘normally they’re 12, but today they’re 9!”
Geoffrey: “I think it’s a Michael Jackson video shopping channel…”
The entire audience starts AWWWWing and BOOOOing.
Mark: “WHAT ARE YOU HAVING A GO AT HIM FOR?? HE LIVES WITH A BEAR- IS THAT NOT HARD ENOUGH?? HE’S NOT MICHAEL JACKSON!!”

Phill: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if this was the latest Bin Laden video. He’s going “…I have your children, America.”
Mark: “Wouldn’t it be great if the next Bin Laden video was just “…Chestnuts Roasting… on an open fire…”

Bill: “Kelly, have you met Westlife?”
Kelly: “Yeah…”
Bill: “Who’s your favorite?”
Kelly: “None of them. They’re all shit…”
Mark: “I’m gonna give you a bonus point for that one…”

Bill and Peter start talking about ‘all the women Cliff Richard turned away.”
Bill: “Sue Barker, there’s one…”
Peter: “Yeah, he turned her down…that’s, what, one woman in 40 years. That’s not bad. See, he’s catching up with me.”
Mark: “What a great contest that’d be, you and Cliff. “So Cliff, let’s count off the people we’ve slept with…one…alright, my turn…”
Phill: “We now go across to Wembley Stadium for the Stringfellow count…”

Mark asks if there have ever been any fights in Peter’s club.
Phill: ‘Don’t people just beat themselves? ‘Hey, you! No wanking! No fat-birds, and no wanking!”
Coolio: “I need a translation…what the hell is a FAT-BIRD, and what is wanking…”
Mark: “If you’ve come this long without wanking, Coolio, I’ll give you a demonstration…”

Intros tonight is special, because they’re all Christmas songs, and they have to be performed with a bunch of assorted musical instruments. Which is nice, and something they’d revisit down the road.

Mark, to Coolio: “Have you ever released a Christmas song?”
Coolio: “HELL NO! I wrote one Christmas song in my life, and it was during the 80’s, and it was called ‘Cracked Out Christmas.’ Like, I’m gonna give you a line from it:
Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen?
All four sprung and they won’t listen, yeah,
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen,
They’s hittin’ the pipe, they in BAD condition!”
So, if I make a Christmas song, that’s what it’s gonna sound like.
Mark: “Can I just point out that…there is, quite famously, a reindeer with a very red nose that you didn’t mention…”
Coolio, continuing:
And what about Rudolf, is HE on his back?
He’s the reason I’m SMOKING all of that crack!
See, what happened was, Rudolph didn’t wanna fly, Rudolph was smoking, and Santa was mad, because his WIFE was smoking, and she was off at the Igloo Inn, selling pussy with Peter!”
The whole house comes down after that one. Coolio is having a great time, cutting loose tonight.
Mark: “It’s all flooding back, now, because I think Bing Crosby did it as a b-side once…”

Phill: ‘I quite like the idea of cracked-out reindeer hookers. Like, that’s their trade.”
Mark: “There are a lot of ho-ho-ho’s up there…”

Phill pulls out a toy saxsaphone, and puts it in his mouth like Sherlock. Then, in a thick English accent, goes “WHY, COOLIO, I THINK YOU’VE GOT IT!”
Coolio eventually lights the sax like a crack pipe, which makes Phill absolutely lose it.
Mark: “BUT DADDY, WE WANTED TO MAKE BUBBLES!”
Phill: “Like *I* need the munchies…”
Coolio: “I wouldn’t wanna be around for that…”

Mark, in talking about Wombling Merry Christmas, says that Coolio could have been the lost member of the Wombles.
Later, when Coolio makes a joke about Kelly’s ‘rack drum’, Bill swats him away by saying “shut up, Womblio.”

After they start playing Start the Cavalry, Peter says “you know what, we don’t play that in my club…”
Bill and Mark just start dancing semi-erotically to the song. Coolio even joins in with mooning Mark, only it ends with him falling onto his box of instruments, which makes Mark completely die laughing.
Mark: “That was one of my favorite ever buzzcocks moments. Coolio offered me his ass, then fell in his toy box.”

I’m not gonna write the whole thing up, but the entire Peter Stringfellow tries to guess Do they Know it’s Christmas bit is one that has to be seen to be believed. Made me laugh so hard.

Mark intros the Teletubbies clip, and then starts cracking up because Coolio completely face palms once he hears the words ‘Teletubbies’.

Phill: “Geoff, you’ve been in the children’s TV world for years. You clearly know the look of someone who’s been up a puppet.”
Mark: “Is that from Oliver? You’ve got to up a puppet or twooo…”

Coolio: “How old are the Teletubbies.”
Mark: “I dunno, let’s ask Dave, he’s #5. HEY DAVE, WHAT YEAR DID THE TELETUBBIES GET STARTED?”
Dave: “Uh, around 1996.”
Mark: “Oh, so about six, seven years ago. ANYWAY, WHICH ONE…”

Geoffrey: “#5 seems a bit tall for me…”
Phill: “Yes, but, the thing is…he was in it.”

Peter: “I think it’s definitely #3…and I’ve got a set on 5.”
Mark: ‘So it’s DEFINITELY 3 OR 5. Split the difference, say four.”

Coolio, to the bagpipers: “Can you smoke weed outta those?”
Mark: “Yes, but they can hear you from miles away. “I think it’s Coolio’s house!”

Next Lines tonight is provided by a choir of singers. And yes, the panel has to sing them back. So, Mark yells at Coolio to sing the next verse of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and he does so, nonchalantly. Then, just to piss him off, Mark makes him go and sing with the choir, which is a hysterical sight.

Carolers: “FIIIIIIIVE GOOOOOLDEEENN-”
Bill: ‘RINGS!”
Kelly: ‘RINGS!”
Peter: “GEESE!”
Mark literally has to get up and walk away, saying “I just want to be away from you, for a while. It’s not working out between us. WILL YOU MARRY ME? HERE’S A *GOOSE*!”

Overall: Going into this show I was ready to crown the Jimmy Cliff show the best of the season and end on a rather glum note, like the Eurovision show last year. However, this mixture of Coolio, Peter Stringfellow, Geoffrey Hayes and Kelly Llorenna managed to give us an all-time classic episode. From Coolio singing with carolers, to Peter completely failing to guess Band Aid, to Coolio’s christmas song, to Peter yelling out “FIVE GOLDEN GEESE!”, to Mark literally yelling out for the real Teletubby. So many amazing moments, and a fantastic end to one of the most consistent NMTB series thus far.

Best Regular: Mark
Best Guest: Coolio
Best Runner: Coolio’s crack

BONUS! SERIES 11 SUPERLATIVES!
Best Episode: Episode 9, this very one, featuring Coolio, Peter Stringfellow, and all the wonderful things I just wrote about.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 4, featuring Mark fawning over Jimmy Cliff, Sheila Ferguson being lovably difficult, and Steve Frost being hysterical.
Worst Episode: Episode 1, because only the Mark moments are worth mentioning.
Best Regular: Mark, because he had more episode wins, though Bill grew fully as the series went on.
Best Musician Guest: Sebastian Bach, Episode 7, because he was having so much fun and being himself. Runner-up goes to Billy Bragg, Episode 5, for being loads of fun just for sitting next to Phill.
Best Comedian Guest: Lots of competition this series, but I’m giving it to Steve Frost, Episode 4, because he elevated what could have been a personality-driven episode to a hysterical status. Though Sean Lock, Mike Wilmot and Dave Fulton all got very close.
Most Befuddled Guest: Budgie, Episode 3.
Most Annoying Guest: Tie between Sheila Ferguson for being too argumentative, and Mark Steel for being too Mark Steel.
Best Dartboards for Mark: Abz (Episode 2), Sheila (Episode 4), Tony Blackburn (Episode 6).
Best Runner: Mark’s paper plates.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E8, or FAT PEOPLE WAL-KING!

From one episode with a ridiculously imbalanced panel to another. Tonight, ON ONE PANEL, we have NMTB-famous gravelly-voiced canadian Mike Wilmot, and ACTUAL-FAMOUS Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. THIS, if anything, will be interesting.

JJ Burnel is the bassist for The Stranglers. Nicholas Parsons hosted Sale of the Century forever.

Nicholas: “There were actually elephants in East Anglier. Did you know that?”
Bill: “No, I didn’t know that. Is that why it’s so flat?”
That’s the kind of answer you’d find on QI.

On the Wu-Tang Clan:
Mike: “In North America, Poo-Tang is for pussy. I believe the pronunciation though is, PUSS-AY!”
Mark: “Also, it’s poon-tang, not poo-tang. That’s an entirely different thing. That’s the back entrance.”

Phill: “Wu-tang, which sounds oriental, and you’re saying poo-tang. Is there some sort of martial art involving ladies’ parts, based around the vagina. They’re called Minjas.”

Phill: “This is a whole new theory as to why the dinosaurs became extinct. It’s because they were hanging around with the bloody Wu-Tang Clan. I mean, it’s not an easy life…”

Nick: “Please, you know I’m down with the homies.”
Mike, not understanding: “You go down on the homies?”
Nick: “No, down WITH…”
Mark: “It’s a different thing, Mike. When they say “I’m about to bust a cap in your ass”, it’s a different thing…”

Mark, to Nicholas: “You’re 73, right?”
Nicholas: “I beg, ji-what?”
Mark, to the camera: “Exactly.”

After another random Intros guess from Nicholas.
Mark: ‘Have you got grandchildren, Nicholas.”
Nicholas: “Yes, I have.”
Mark: “Did you ask them for a list of recent songs before you came on…”

Nicholas: “I follow the Sugarbabes-I’d LIKE to follow the Sugarbabes…”
Bill: “Yes, but there’s a restraining order…”

Mike is flabbergasted by Nick and Phill’s first intro. He even goes “isn’t that the sound fat people make when they walk.”
Nick’s reaction is priceless. He doubles over in laughter, then realizes he’s standing next to Phill, and politely pats him on the shoulder.

Mark, on a whim, throws it back to Nicholas, saying “HE’LL KNOW!”
Nicholas: “Oh, I don’t know…”
Bill, whispering: “Master of Puppets, by Metallica…”
Nicholas, confidently by still confused: “Master of Puppets, by Britannica.”

Great moment. After Intros, Phill’s team sits down. Mike and Phill are laughing about how Mike couldn’t get any, and Phill turns to Nick, knowing he just flat out sang What’s Up after a while, and goes “lovely voice.” I love when a panel can get along this well.

Mark, in the ID Parade for Mark’s group, knows the guy literally has not changed a bit since ‘Just Say No’ came out, so when he gets to him, #2, he just gives away that it’s him, saying “or is it #2, *ZAMMO*!”

Bill: “What was the song they were singing just then?”
Mark: “Just say no.”
Bill: “Say no to what?”
Mark: “Drugs. That may be news to you, Bill…”

Mark: “Nicholas, did you see Grange Hill?”
Nicholas: “No, I was too old.”
Mark: “Okay, well if you didn’t see it, #2 was Zammo…”

Nicholas: “Why is one of them wearing a green blazer and the other four have got black blazers on.”
Mark: “I wouldn’t worry about him. He’s not Zammo.”

Nicholas: “Listen, you shouldn’t listen to what Mark says, he’s trying to put you off.”
Mark: “Yeah, it wouldn’t at all be #2, the instantly recognizable Zammo…”
At this point #2 can’t help but crack up.

Nicholas: “#5 has the look of ‘I was an actor once.'”
Mark: “Yes, they ARE actors, and #2 played Zammo in Grange Hill!”

Overall: A very nice show, if imperfect. Phill, Mike and Nick were all a lot of fun, and Nicholas was great in his general befuddlement. JJ was kind of quiet, and Nick wasn’t the personality I thought he’d be, but it was still a fun show, fueled by the Zammo ID Parade, too.

Best Regular: Bill
Best Guest: Mike
Best Runner: Nicholas doesn’t know anything from this century.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E7, or Bill, WOULD YOU AND WAYNE’S WORLD DO A SONG??

Bit of an odd panel, this one. A heavy metal legend on one side, a comedy legend on the other. Should be fun either way.

Neil Innes was the unofficial seventh member of Monty Python, writing most of the songs, and also joining Eric Idle in The Rutles. Emma B’s a TV presenter and not, as I assumed, Baby Spice. Sebastian Bach is a rock legend, fronting Skid Row. Dave Fulton’s an American comedian, which is nice.

On a naked, street-walking Lisa Stansfield:
Neil: “Personally, I think that all she wants to do is just make the world a better place…”
Phill: “I think she’s about to bump into Richard Ashcroft from the Verve comin’ the other direction…”
Mark: “Is that why he looks so unhappy in the video? Because he can see her out of the…”

Mark, revealing that Billy Joel was the right answer: “In 1970, after the failure of his first band, and being dumped by his girlfriend, both of which he deserved-”
The whole studio just stops and cracks up at this point. Nobody can believe it.

Sebastian: “Was Slipknot part of the Queen’s Jubilee?”
Mark: “I didn’t see it. They probably did a Motown tribute or something…”

The visual of Dave, Bill and Sebastian all banging their heads, long hair swinging everywhere, is one of the best this show’s had in a while. Bill calls them “what would happen if the Three Wise Men stopped off at a kibbutz!”
Phill: “We followed a star, and we bring ketamin, heroin and cocaine!”
Mark: “AND ROCK!!!”
Bill: “We can make ‘im whistle for that myhrr…hehehehehe…”
Sebastian: “We’re like the Bee-Gees on acid. I’m Barry, [Dave] is Maurice…no, wait, I’m Robin, I’m the effeminate one.”
Phill: “People watching at home are going ‘wow, Bananarama have really let themselves go…”

Bill gets Sebastian to give Bill, momentarily, some of his hair, to “remember what hair looks like”. The image of Sebastian throwing his hair on Bill’s forehead is another one that makes me laugh very hard.
Mark: “IT LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME!”

Neil, on an intro: “bum..tit…bum..tit…bum..tit…”
Emma: “Are you saying BUM-TIT?”
Phill: “If you want…”

Sebastian steps up to do an intro, puts his foot on the desk, like he’s ready.
Mark: “Sebastian…when you did that, your cucumber slipped a little.”
Sebastian, going over to Mark: “I need some adjustment.”
Mark: “GET OFF…”
Sebastian eventually slinks back to his spot, at which point an exasperated Mark yells “BILL, WILL YOU AND WAYNE’S WORLD DO A SONG??”

Dave is trying to get the intro from Sebastian and Bill. Sebastian, giving him a clue, says “IMEDLA MARCOS!” Bill goes “no, no no no no, that’s Phillippines.”
Mark: “You’re thinking other side of the world, there.”
Dave, summing Sebastian up: “Once again the geography question has reared its ugly head and stumped the American.”

After an intro featuring some head-banging from all three on Bill’s team.
Phill: “Talk about subliminal advertising. People at home writing “ooh, conditioner…”

ID Parade:
Sebastian: “#1’s David Bowie after a couple of hamburgers…”
Mark: “In what respect? Not facially.”

Sebastian: “I’ve never heard of thwack…”
Mark: “It’s what a cleft-palate drug addict takes…”
Sebastian, wincing at that joke: “Aw, JEEZ…”

Next Lines: “When you’re in love with a beautiful woman.”
Bill: “You use binoculars.”

Mark: “We spend our lives on trial.”
Sebastian, full scream: “WE ARE THE YOUTH GONE WILD!”
Mark: “Uh…no…”
Sebastian slams his head on the desk.
Mark, to Phill: “That’s a Skid Row song, too. No, it’s ‘we walk an endless mile.”
Sebastian: “It’s my song, and I fucked it up…”

Mark, after a disastrous Bill’s side Next Lines, to Phill: “Well, it gives me great pleasure tonight to tell you that you’ve won, whatever happens. You need five points, and if it takes us weeks, YOU’LL GET EM.”

Mark: “What songs d’you know, Neil?”
Neil: “Hardly any. I don’t even know what channel we’re on.”

After another fairly easy Next Line for Phill, Sebastian: “What’s next, Happy Birthday?”
Mark: “YOU HAD ONE OF HIS! ONE OF HIS AND YOU GOT IT WRONG!! I noticed as soon as i said ‘homecoming queen’, THESE TWO pipe up…”

Mark: ‘I’m sorry mom, I never meant to hurt you.:
Phill: “I didn’t mean to be a 14-pound baby.”

Overall: Another really fun episode, helped by a really fun, solid panel. True, it seems like the imbalance was up again, as Bill’s panel was hysterical and fun and Phill’s was fun…but not as. Neil and Emma were great, but Sebastian, Dave and Bill were just so ON tonight, that it was embarrassing for the other team. Sebastian was unhinged, and Dave had a ton of nice lines.

Best Regular: Bill
Best Guest: Sebastian
Best Runner: Bill’s team as the three wise men.

 

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E6

A few returns tonight. Tony Blackburn, one half of famous detective duo Blackburn and Slash, is back with us tonight, and Jackie Clune, who was on an episode of QI, is also on the program. Not sure what that means in terms of humor, but there you go.

Chris Baker’s a member of Mint Royale, famous DJ duo. Gary Moore was a member of Skid Row (not the Sebastian Bach skid row, a different one) and Thin Lizzy.

Bill, on the Madonna-Celine connection: “Can I just say…is it ludicrously obscure?”
Mark: “Yeah…so you’ve got a great chance of gettin’ it Bill…”

Mark: Madonna once rented Angus Deaton’s house in North London for a photo shoot, and infuriated him by painted the walls purple. Although, he was soon distracted by other things….drugs and whore, mainly. Our lawyers have asked me to point out, NOT ALLEGEDLY.”

Tony, after a joke by Phill involving logs: “Do you like logs, then, Phill?”
Phill: “Depends on what you’re offering. If you’re advertising something like ‘Tony Blackburn’s Beef Log’, I dunno if I’d want a big mouth full of that.”
Tony: ‘Wait ’til you’re offered it.”
Jackie: “Tony Blackburn is doing homoerotic flirting on this show…”
Mark: “Well, he’s doing ‘homo’, not so much ‘erotic’.”

Chris, right before doing an intro to Tony: “That jacket’s really putting me off…”
Tony, putting his shiny shoes up on the desk: “Well what do you think of those, then?”

Phill and Gary’s Pet Shop Boys intro goes on so long that Mark has to whisper the answer to the other team, behind his cards. Jackie’s astonished expression when Tony actually gets a question right is priceless.

Gary’s next intro involves a lot of tonguing
Jackie: “Is that steel drums, or were you a lesbian in a past life.”
Gary keeps doing it, and Jackie, keeping with that joke, goes “KEEP GOING I’M NEARLY THERE…”

(End of Next Lines Buzzer sounds)
Tony: “What was that for?”
Mark: “That was the end of the round.”
Tony, dejected: “Oh.”
Mark: “Or was it your ROCK AMBULANCE come to take you away??”

Overall: Not a lot to this one, but Gary brought a lot of rock cred, Tony was crazy, and Jackie had some very nice lines.

Best Regular: Bill
Best Guest: Jackie
Best Runner: Tony’s logs.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E5 or BY THE FOREHEADS OF ANT AND DEC WILL YOU STOP??

Two people we’ve seen before, but only one I’m especially pleased to see again, and that’s Billy Bragg, who is rightfully back next to Phill this week. Mark Steel is also back, but I bet that won’t be the reason this episode succeeds or fails.

Ian McLagen was in the Faces and the Small Faces, and worked with the Rolling Stones. Gay-Yee Westerhoff is a member of the string-quartet Bond. I only know them from Johnny English. Sue me.

Mark mentions in his intro for Mark Steel that he’s known for TV appearances and such, “but he’s currently known for being a last-minute replacement for Janet-Street Porter.”
If this is true…you couldn’t have gotten someone funnier?

On Mud and railings:
Billy: “We did think this had something to do with them pissing up railings, but railings are really hard to piss up, aren’t they? Cause…”
Phill: “They’re more gap than railing.”
Mark: “It’s a challenge, isn’t it.”
Phill: “Requires a lot of precision-”
Ian: “Not if you’re dressed as a lobster.”
Billy: “There speaks the voice of experience.”
Mark: “There speaks the voice of the 60’s I think…”

Bill: “They used railings to make the guitars?”
Mark: “What, covered in piss?”
Bill:” Yeah, the piss-stained railing guitars. It was a hit in 1973.”
Mark: “That’d be ‘While my guitar gently weeps’, wouldn’t it?”

Mark Steel, on Barry White and a Tire: “He got a tire and tied it to his tree, so he can swing and all, but his weight was too much for it, and brought the WHOLE TOWN down…”

At the beginning of Phill and Ian’s first intro, Mark just starts singing My Sharona to throw Billy off…and it actually works. He just keeps bringing it back, too.

After Billy misses ‘Judy in Disguise’
Ian: “It’s a shame, the next one’s My Sharona, isn’t it?”
Phill: “Oh, yeah.”
And while they’re doing the next intro, Mark even buts in a ‘Sharona’, so halfway through the song, Phill just flat out turns the intro into My Sharona.

Mark: “Michael Jackson claims he likes to put on a fatsuit and fake beard and walk the streets unrecognized. Although it backfired when he was spotted and hired to appear on a pop quiz and HAS BEEN STUCK THERE [Phill] FOR THE LAST ELEVEN SERIES!!”

Phill’s entire team just starts dancing to ‘Popcorn’, which is kind of hysterical, but even Mark joins in. And they continue this into ID Parade.

It’s weird. Phill’s team is having so much fun, and is so in tune with each other, that it really hurts that Bill’s is so dead tonight. This is a very imbalanced show, because Phill has two people he can really work with, and Bill…does not.

#5 in Bill’s ID Parade is a bearded big guy.
Bill: “#5 seems weirdly familiar. It’s the ghost of me…future.”
Gay-yee: “#5 is your dad…”
They keep cutting back to #5, and back to Bill, and it’s hysterical.

Now, this week in Bill’s Next Lines:
Bill: “Somewhere over the rainbow…there is a…finer bit of china…”

Mark: “Somebody told me his name was Bill.”
Bill: “da do…run…run…”
Mark: “Why are you so scared?”
Bill: “Well, I’ve got anominal dysphasia, I can’t remember the thing I’m supposed to be saying!”
Mark: “THEN HOW DID YOU REMEMBER ANOMINAL DYSPHASIA? THAT’S AMAZING!”
Bill: “Those are the only two words I can remember!”

Overall: Fairly middle-of-the-road episode. Billy, Ian and Phill were all wonderful, and there were a ton of great Bill moments, but this episode dragged on towards the middle, and there was a ton of radio silence from Bill’s panel. Imbalanced, but not without its merits.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Billy
Best Runner: My Sharona

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E4 or When He Opens his Mouth, THAT HAPPENS!

I don’t know what I’m more excited about. The fact that we have a return appearance from Lauren Laverne, the fact that one of my favorite Whose Line semi-regs is on tonight, or the fact that JIMMY CLIFF…*ACTUAL REGGAE LEGEND JIMMY CLIFF* is in the building tonight. ‘The Harder they Come’ Jimmy Cliff. On Buzzcocks. Wow.

I should also devote a paragraph to Steve Frost, because he is quite possibly the greatest Whose Line cast member you’ve never heard of. Sure, you can name Ryan and Colin, and UK fans can name Tony Slattery, Josie Lawrence and Paul Merton. but Steve Frost came in right when the Americans were taking over and stayed right until the end of the UK series, giving some of the most inspired and fun episodes of the later run. Plus, his Scene to Music with Tony Slattery, where they did an advert for washing powder made very heavenly all of the sudden, is stuff of Improv legend.

Aside from JIMMY CLIFF, Steve and Lauren, Sheila Ferguson, an American soul singer and member of the Three Degrees is also in the building. From the panel alone, this is gonna be a pretty great episode.

Mark mentions, while introing Steve, that Steve used to be the opener for Sean Hughes. “How times have changed…Steve is guesting on a BBC2 premier music quiz, and where is Sean Hughes?…no one knows…but Bill Bailey’s got a new [something]”

Mark while introing Jimmy can barely contain himself over the fact that he’s announcing the phrase “IT’S JIMMY CLIFF!” Like, he’s still in disbelief, and you can tell him his voice.

Sheila, after the Gene Vincent song: “But I thought Elvis, did this song…faster.”
Mark, deadpan: “No, Gene Vincent did it, about the same speed…”

Bill: “And right there, you see, the microphone’s turned into a dandelion”
Mark: “If you meant a Dandy Lion, like ‘HEY MAN, I’M A LION”, then yeah.”
Steve: “It’s like a lion with a coif.”
Former 50’s Throwback Mark Lamarr: “We don’t mention coifs on this show…”

Bill: “How did he actually get the steel pin in his leg?”
Mark: “Motorbike accident. He was a dispatch courier in the navy.”
Steve: “Hang on…so, motorcycle in the navy- what, you’d drown!”
Once again I’m reminded how much I adore Steve Frost

Sheila tells a story that gets so long and drawn out that Mark has to stop her and tell her to go on.
Sheila: “Well, it’s not good unless you tell the whole story, cause I’ve listened to you…”
Mark, invisible earpiece: “DID SOMEONE TELL HER THIS WAS A CHAT SHOW??”

Mark, making fun of Sheila, tells a long, drawn out story about how he bought a Diet Coke from a store.
Mark, raising his glass: “I’ve got a million of these…”
Steve, taking him literally: “Then you shouldn’t buy so many!”

Sheila: “I have a question. You used to be a poet, didn’t you?”
Mark: “Yes, back in the day- do I have an interview?”
Sheila: “Could you do some poetry for us?”
Phill: “Now on BBC2, it’s time for The Third Degree…”
Mark: “I’ll write you a poem right now. What rhymes with ‘shut the fuck up’?”
Sheila, absolutely serious: “‘Kiss my black ass.'”
Steve and Bill give her high-fives for that one.
Mark: “The real thing is, Steve HAS got a black ass!”

Jimmy: “I don’t think the hurricane was at that time, I don’t remember a hurricane.”
Mark: “You’d notice a hurricane, wouldn’t you?”
Jimmy: “Yeah, I would have…”
Mark: “Okay, 1 point, HE’D NOTICE A HURRICANE…”

Sheila begins to give Mark shit for giving Jimmy a point for nothing, but Mark holds up a paper plate of him smiling, and turns it toward her, going “what was that, I wasn’t listening.”

Mark: “Jimmy, were you in the film The Harder they Come?”
Jimmy: “Yes, I certainly was-”
Mark: 1 point.”
Sheila: ‘Hey, I was in The French Connection!!”
Mark: “Is that why there was that big car chase, cause you were telling a story?”

Jimmy: ‘I think it’s the third one-”
Mark: “Hang on, I’ve just got to change the order…”

During a Bill-Sheila intro, Bill comes in too soon, and Sheila just yells “HEY, WHERE YOU GOIN!”
Mark, sassier: “WHERE YOU GOIN’, CHILD?”

Steve starts to go on a joke about Sheila, and eventually Sheila just says “EYEBROWS! HUSH!” Steve really has no choice but to crack up here.

When Steve eventually gets the 2nd intro, Sheila starts running around the studio screaming ‘YES!!”, eventually nearly putting Mark into a stranglehold, until he has to put up the paper plate.

Mark: “MAAAANY RIVERS TO CROOOOSS- did you write that?”
Jimmy: “Yeah.”
Mark: “Extra point. Would you sing it?”
Jimmy: “MAAAANY RIVERS TO CROSS…”
Both Phill and Mark faint due to music-geeking. It’s fantastic.
Mark: “You see, he opens HIS mouth, THAT HAPPENS!”

As Phill and Jimmy due a comparatively quiet intro, Mark: “He invented ambient music, Jimmy. You might not be able to hear him, but he’s doing some great work…”

Bill: “Jimmy, what is that you’re playing?”
Jimmy: “Keyboard!”
Steve: “He’s checking to see if it’s plugged in…”

For the ID Parade for ‘A Little Lovin’, Mark named #4, “A Little left on the plate wouldn’t kill ya’, as he’s rather large. Mark then has to hide behind his paper plate, as he’s trying not to crack up.

Phill and Lauren think it’s #2, Jimmy thinks it’s #4. Mark, of course goes “I really want Jimmy to get the point now, so could #2 and #4 switch places?”

Mark: “Round round, baby, round round”
Jimmy, sung: ‘Wonderful world, beautiful people-”
Mark: “That’s not what I had written down, but that’s what it should have been…”

Mark, summing up this episode with one line: “Bill’s team you need 11 to win. And if you get that, [Jimmy] gets some more go’s.”

Mark: “Gary don’t need his eyes to see.”
Bill: “He’s got special equipment in his knees!”
Mark: “Gary and his eyes are perfect company.”
Bill: “YES!”
Mark: “Ah, thank you. Good, I get a point at LAST…”

Mark, at the end of the round: “It was a valiant effort, but none of you, as far as I know, are Jimmy Cliff.”

Overall: Wonderful episode. If all we had was the Jimmy Cliff runner, we’d have been okay, but additionally we had Sheila and Mark bickering, Steve being hysterical, and Lauren having a few good lines in there, all the while Mark throwing his paper plate around, and giving random points to Jimmy. It was a phenomenal episode, one that’ll set the tone of the series.

Best Regular: Mark
Best Guest: Steve
Best Runner: Jimmy gets extra points.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E3

YAY SEAN LOCK’S BACK! Finally we get an awesome comedian to grace the stage and give some great lines. Additionally, we have Budgie, the drummer from Siouxie and the Banshees, Jason Perry from boy-band A, and Lorraine Pearson from Five Star

Bill and Lorraine get Mark to play the Shadows clip backwards, so it looks like a bunch of teens are dancing to it…and then realize it’s terrible and leave. Bill dubs it, MST3K-style, like “Hey, listen to this music…this is really groovy…i’m really wigging out to this…OHHH…WAIT A SECOND…THIS IS THE WORST SOUND I’VE EVER HEARD…”

Bill points out that the drummer, who’s bent his knee, ‘has one leg’.
Jason: “What, is he trying to get into Def Leppard? [realizing he actually has 2 legs]…oh…”

Bill, at a point in the Commodores video: “Here he’s talking into his ring-phone…”Have we got the Nigeria gig yet? Yes or no?”

Phill on the Knopfler video, a green lighted window: “This is a clip from an episode of the Waltons where the Incredible Hulk appeared, completely unexpectedly. “Goodnight The Incredible Hulk.”
Sean: “RAAAARRGHH”

Mark: “In June 1988, Dire Straits played a Nelson Mandela tribute, which is odd, because they look nothing like him…”

Mark: “In 1966, Fleetwood Mac formed, in 1968 they released their first album, and in 1973 they released the Penguin. Fortunately within a half-an-hour the caped crusader had foiled his fiendish plans to steal…”
Amazing misdirect there

Mark says he’d rather be a plate than a horse, via Sean’s analogy, because “at least I’ll never have Lester Piggott on me goin’ ‘IGHEGHEAJLDHEHHHEHHH!”
Jason: “Was he a dwarf?”
Sean: “No, he had a cleft palate…”
Mark: “And he was deaf.”
Sean: “No, he had a cleft palate, TALHED LIHE THITH..”
Mark: “NO, HE WAS DEAF!”
Sean: “No, he wasn’t deaf!”
Mark: “This is the sort of argument I love!”
Sean: “okay…let’s find out…”
Mark: “What, are we gonna WRITE to Lester Piggott? I’d ring ‘im, but HE WOULDN’T FUCKIN’ HEAR!!”
Sean: “He would, but he wouldn’t be able to tell you-”
Mark: “HE WOULD!!!”

Sean: “When did you hear he was deaf?”
Mark: “I asked him if he was deaf, but I COULDN’T WORK OUT WHAT HE SAID!!!”
Budgie: “If he was deaf, how would he know when to start the race?”
Sean, in his usual tone: ‘THANK YOU!”

Overall: Aside from Sean and the Sophie Ellis-Bextor plate, not a lot going on here. Panel was good and played well, but not a ton of funny moments other than the Lester Piggott argument.

Best Regular: Mark
Best Guest: Sean
Best Runner: Sophie plate.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E2, or He is the One in 5ive

Onto another Bill Bailey romp, this one featuring another member of 5ive, Abz Love, and TWO members of UB40, Ali and Robin Campbell, and Marilyn, a generally androgynous white Jamaican pop star. So…a Jamaican Pete Burns, perhaps? Should at least be fun for Mark.

Mark, introing Abz: “Up until last year, Abz was one fifth of 5ive, which, for any 5ive fans watching, is ONE.”

Because both Campbell brothers are on, Mark retells the joke from Ali’s intro when he’s introing Robin. He goes “I thought you’d enjoy that, it’s like covering a recent classic.”

On the Nickelback video, Phill: “Let’s go back to that Jesus-lookin’ fella..”
Mark: “Is that your image of Jesus?”
Phill: “Yeah. JESUS IS BACK, AND HE ROCKS! I heard he healed Slipknot at Glastonbury earlier this year. All those scabby bits- GONE. They’re now The Nolans.”

Bill on the Leo Sayer video: “It looks like a 1970’s Belgian telethon. “TO STOP THIS FOOLISHNESS…”

Marilyn, pointing to the long-legged guy’s trouserline- “Is that someone’s head?”
Mark: “oh yeah, in your dreams…”

After two intros, it becomes clear that Robin only really knows reggae, so Mark, in tune with Phill and Abs, just starts singing Three Little Birds. Eventually in turns into him and both Campbells just singing Bob Marley, which is fun.

Mark, afterward: “Does anyone care what that was? The question was…has Robin heard any songs ever recorded by white people?”

Mark: “This next one is a reggae tune, and if you don’t get it, I’M GONNA WHUP YA DOWN, SIR!”
Phill, sincere: “He will…he has a ratchet…”

Mark dresses Ali down for not standing up during Intros. Mark even says “If I was at one of your gigs, I’d be standing…only way to get out, anyway…”

Marilyn isn’t great with heavy metal, so when he gets the fact that it’s a Whitesnake tune, he’s so surprised, as is everyone else, that he doesn’t realize he has to say the title.
Marilyn: “Can I get one point?”
Mark: “You get the title, it’s one point. I’d give you half, but it won’t count toward your final score.”

Marilyn: “Uhhh…screwed by satan.”
Mark: “Is that the name of a Whitesnake song?”
Marilyn gives a dumbfounded shrug.
Mark: “Or as that what you’re gonna do after the show?”

Marilyn denies that Bill tried to mouth him the title to the Coldplay track.
Marilyn: “The lips on his face weren’t movin’..”
Mark: “WHAT OTHER LIPS HAS BILL GOT?? BLOODY GOOD OPERATION IF IT IS!!”

I know that #4 in the French ID Parade ain’t it, because I remember her from the Nolan’s lineup as “I’m in the mood for knitting”, next to Athelston, who was in the mood for staring.

Abs says he doesn’t remember French, as he was “still in me mum’s womb.”
Phill: “Yeah, but that was six years ago…”
Abs: “OH, IT WAS…”
Mark: “So are you telling me that when you were in 5ive, you WERE FIVE?”

Bill: “I’m gonna go…mad, and say #1.”
Mark: “No, going mad would be, like ‘#8’. The 5ive tribute band, EIGHT!”

Next Lines, Mark: “And the pretty girl has a hand in mind, and the silver string is a poor man’s wine.”
Bill: ‘And the…tiny…little…creatures of the woodland, come…”
jesus, Bill’s bizarro humor just fits this show.
Mark: “EVERYTHING ENDS UP as a script from Lord of the Rings.”

Mark: “I am the one in ten.”
Phill, pointing to Abs: “He is the one in 5ive.”
Absolutely perfect. That was a golden moment.

Overall: Solid, funny episode, definitely a step up from the last one, thanks to the Campbell brothers, and the thousands of 5ive jokes. it also helps that Bill was coming into his own, even though he still wasn’t the episode standout (that was Phill). Marilyn was fun and manageable, and everything was pretty nice.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Abs or Marilyn
Best Runner: 5ive jokes.

Nevermind Watchdown: S11E1, or THE BAILEY ERA BEGINS!!

Well, since i’m on such a hot streak, I might as well move onto Series 11, and leave the Sean Hughes years behind, sadly. The good news is that means BILL BAILEY is now a REGULAR! That’s a phrase I haven’t used since Space Cadets. Seriously, I’m pumped, excited, and love what he could do to this show.

As for the panelists, we get Claire Grogan again, but also Kerry Katona’s Atomic Kitten bandmate Jenny Frost, Radio DJ Mark Goodier, and TV presenter Ben Shepherd.

The first part of the show is Mark, in full Dad’s Army regalia, auditioning people for Sean’s spot. A bunch of old guys do off-color material, until Bill just says three words and Mark lets him in.

Phill, on Charlotte Church and Gary Barlow: “Do both get uncontrollably weepy at the mention of Robbie Williams?”
Mark: “…when you say WEEPY…”

Phill, on the Church video: “I think she’s in the Empire State Building, because outside the window, you can see the pink, veiny testicle of King Kong!”
Mark: “THAT MONKEY’S GOT SOME BIG BALLS!”

Ben: “D’you think a jelly-baby took a gigantic dump on his chest?”
Mark: “What, ‘oh, they’re so whimsical, they shit in big numbers!”

Mark mentions that any Jimmy Savile impression makes him really happy, even if it’s shit. Jenny gives a shitty one. Bill does a Yoda impression instead, going “Pleasure do I feel!!”

Mark, after a fairly obscure Bill joke: “Bill’s brought a lot of Haitian references to the show this series…”
Bill: “Haiti, of course, was the secret dwarf that was not spoken about. There was grumpy, sneezy and HATEY, THE EMBODIMENT OF PURE EVIL!”

Mark, on the shot of Jimmy Savile in a beret: “Could you imagine, if Che Guevara looked like that there’d be no posters of him anywhere.”

Mark: “Jimmy Savile famously once spent five days locked in a room with his dead mother. Of course, since then the producers have modified the Big Brother format…”

Mark: “In 1992, Sony signed Jamiroquai to an 8-album deal, although they later sacked the lawyer for not specifying that they wanted 8 SEPARATE ALBUMS!”

Phill, upon seeing Jenny and bill standing to do Intros: “I must rent a copy of Beauty and the Beast when I get home…”
Bill, in response, does his sort of grotesque look, like his Graham Osmond look, around Jenny.

Next Lines: “One pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small.”
Phill: “Ooh, I’ll have one of those…”

Overall: Not a ton going on here tonight, but enough to establish Bill as a worthy successor to Sean, and enough from Claire and Jenny to keep things interesting.

Best Regular: Mark
Best Guest: Claire
Best Runner: “I SAY ‘enjoyed’…”